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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Traveller Tuesday: Extended Mortgages

There are ships in Traveller that are canonically known as "Adventurer Class", i.e. they are ideal for parties of player characters. But some of them are downright un-affordable.
My use of Traveller setting and dress falls under
fair use guidelines for both Mongoose and Far Future Enterprises.
Take the Mercenary Cruiser, for example. As listed in the 1e Core Rulebook -- in other words, with no weapons installed at all -- comes out to MCr. 481.6  (yes, the book says MCr. 433.44; it's wrong. Do the math and see for yourself). 481,600,000 divided by 240 months -- the standard 20-year mortgage -- comes out to over two million credits a month.  And this is before you factor in arms, ammunition, crew salaries, mercenary salaries, medical bills, damage to the ship, and the sundry other expenses that go with fielding an elite merc unit.


Of course, the obvious answer to this is "An elite unit gets the best tickets, and those pay off in the tens of Megacreds." All right, perhaps so; but there are other ships out there with a similar problem.

Let's say that a Noble with 9 terms and a Social Status of 14 -- a Count -- retires and wants to buy a 600 dton Liner to become his luxurious Jump-3 mobile home. Why, the mortgage on that is only a mere 1,143,558.33 credits a month. And what does this long-serving, high-status Noble have in income each month?

182, 125 credits a month. (I know this because I used character creation to roll up the Count and used the Wealth system in Book 8: Dilettante during mustering out.)

Ponder that for a moment: A nine-term Count must take on passengers, or haul speculative cargo, in order to pay for a ship which is, I feel, commensurate with his service and standing. 

Fortunately, there is a logical way around this. I suppose I could have just led with the house rule, but I needed to get some ranting off my chest first. 

The Extended Mortgage
While the standard 20-year mortgage is what most peons regular people must use, there are always exceptions made for the wealthy, the famous, and the connected. These extended mortgages can go for 40, 60, even 100 years or longer, making expensive ships far more affordable. That same luxury liner that costs MCr. 1.144 each month at a 20 year rate now becomes
  • Cr. 571,779.17 at 40 years
  • Cr. 381,186.11 at 60 years
  • Cr. 285,889.58 at 80 years
  • Cr. 228,711.67 at 100 years
  • Cr. 114,355.83 at 200 years
How is such a thing possible? 
Essentially, the person signing the loan has a co-signer: his family name, his corporation, his estate, or some other institution which the bank believes will still be in existence at the end of the mortgage. In the case of His Excellency, the Lord Counte Raté vers le Haute, Count of Mongo and Baron of Jewell, the Right Honorable Nurushmusgirnaasi Shashaagramikshegii, he is essentially telling the bank "If I die before I pay this off, my family will continue to pay for it. Be it my children, my siblings or my parents, someone within the Noble House of Jewell will honor this debt."

In effect, the loan is being guaranteed by a larger institution with both a solid reputation and non-liquid assets. 

Game Mechanics
The character wishing to make such a mortgage needs one or more of these:
  • Social Standing of 12 or higher
  • A family or corporation willing to assume the debt  (Social Status of family or corporation head is used instead of character's SOC)
  • 1% of the total in liquid funds that are used as a down payment (+1 DM; +2 DM if  5%, +3 DM if 10%)
  • The character is on anagathics legally (+1 DM)
The base difficulty is 12 for a 40 year mortgage; each additional 20 year mortgage term increases the difficulty +1. 

The character then rolls SOC + Admin + other DMs. If the character seeking the mortgage has Broker, he may roll it instead of Admin with a +1 to his roll. If the character has neither Broker nor Admin, he may roll Diplomat with a -1 DM. 

Other PCs or NPCs may assist by creating task chains. For example, a financial adviser may be brought in to roll EDU + Broker to prove the character is financially solvent and a good risk; a lawyer or other bureaucratic specialist may be brought in to handle all the paperwork with INT + Admin. 

To conclude our example, the RH Count of Mongo (SOC +2, Diplomat 3), trading solely on his reputation, needs a roll of 8+ in order to get a 40-year mortgage on his luxury liner. If, however, he wishes to get the monthly mortgage down to a rate he can afford -- 160 years at Cr. 142,944.79 -- then that has a difficulty of 18. Count Tobias will need to trade upon his family's name, prove he is on life extension and in good health, bring his staff with him,  be his most charming self, and possibly even liquidate some of his holdings in order to secure such a loan; difficult, but still possible for a man of such means.

A handy spreadsheet to calculate this may be found here. Also included on the sheet are entries for calculating interest on a ship mortgage, if one wishes both increased realism and evil to inflict upon PCs. 

A Closing Thought
From one of my players: Not only is the extended mortgage very Vilani by passing debts along family lines, it also encourages long-term stable businesses, and families, with sensible assets. 

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